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Survival of the Fittest May 25, 2006

Matt Demers - 15:57 EST

THIS WHOLE CRAZY CONSOLE WAR debate is just insane. So many people, including myself, are just so excited to speculate and wonder what the next generation will bring, who will "win" and who will "lose". While Nintendo blasted its competitors marvelously during the show (now two weeks ago!) we should all step back and remember that two out of the three next-gen consoles aren't even going to be released for months yet.

Sony does have a huge headstart on the other systems, but we have to remember that it ain't over until it's over. From the looks of things, it's really anybody's game at this point. The important part is that we remember to respect each others thoughts and opinions, especially because all anyone is doing at this point is wondering about the future. Some people are starting to take attacks on Sony or Nintendo as personal attacks, and that's just really not cool at all. Take deep breaths, everyone, and calm yourselves. We have a lot of year left to get through before the REAL drama starts!

With that happy word of calm and hopefully soothing neutrality, let's start building the angst up once again...

Two great reasons to remain a GBA fan

I know they were announced at E3, but what I would REALLY like to see are more details on FFV Advance and FFVI Advance. Are there really going to be new jobs, or will they just be “upgraded” to be like the ones from FFT? (And am I confusing FFV Advance with FF III DS or something? It’s been a hectic week…) As for FFVI Advance, I agree that there are a few characters that could use a little backstory. Not just Gogo and Shadow, but Umaro and Mog as well. Heck, give the furry guys some love, too.


Ah, the story behind Final Fantasy V and VI for the GBA dates back to last year, when they were both announced alongside Final Fantasy IV. Then time passed, and all we heard about was IV! That is, until last week. It's nice to see that the projects are still alive and well.

I've heard rumours that there will be one extra class available in FFV; I haven't heard much about VI, but I'd love to see some new Espers or spells. My greatest hope, though, is that both games receive a retranslation and an addition of bonus material to the tune of last year's FFIV remake. Despite the flaws evident in the battle system, it was quite evident that a lot of work went into that game, and it would be neat to see the same thing happen for these two, as I'm sure you'd agree.

And surely, I'd love to have Umaro do more than just run around hooting "OOGAH OOGAH" and being a tank in combat. This might be our best chance for the time being!

As for your DVD player woes: Scrap it. They’ve gotten cheaper. I’ve sold ones during my tenure in retail that were $30.



Indeed. I thought about getting it fixed, but I'm not going to bring a piece of electronics in for repair and have them charge me 30-50% of what it was originally worth to do so. Nay. I do believe this is a test from the gods to try and bend me to buy a new PS2. Should I? SHOULD I? I don't know!

It's not just the North Americans that are distressed, either...


Writing all the way from the UK, I see many people did not like the bitter taste Sony left, when they made their next generation consoles price public.

Firstly I agree with most comments and since I live in the UK (one of the most expensive countires to live in), I'll have to enjoy paying that extra margin on the price, than paying the simple currency converstion from Dollars to Sterling. Sigh! Still I remeber back when the PS2 was released here for about £400+ bundled with a memory card, extra controlled, stand and one game. I think the conversion rate for the USback then was about $1.5:£1 making it near $600. It was still sold out and a rare find for christmas.

But as previously pointed out, the playstation 3 will have the latest gaming technology, which makes it that more expensive. I am hoping to see some Wow effects, like when I bought the PS2 to play FFX.


Indeed. I was most shocked when I found one of my own under the Christmas tree, because I didn't even ask for one due, semi-ironically, to the fact that I thought it was priced too highly to even consider asking for. Well, thanks mom 'n' dad! It's lasted me this long, and it still plays (attempts to play) games.

I remember exactly how big of a thing the PS2 was at launch. Thanks to a string of thefts, there were news articles in my local paper telling people to make sure that if they were lucky enough to possess a PS2, that they were hidden well out of view while in homes hooked up or in cars while shopping for other Christmas gifts. And people think that violence caused by video games is from the violent content within them... hahahahaha!

The PS3 really is "wowing" when it comes to graphics, but I couldn't honestly discern much of a noticeable difference between the PS3 and the Xbox 360's graphics. Maybe I wasn't looking close enough, but both systems were very impressive to behold from a graphical standpoint.

Also as I do not see this issue pointed out (sorry if it has and I missed it), but the PS3 will be 100% backward compatible for PS1 and PS2. Hardly something the xbox 360 can boast about, unless you like waiting for patches to download and then boot onto the console. Great for all those people with a good sized pile of PS1 and PS2 games.


That's a very good point. Sony has always led the way in terms of compatibility, and it's good to see that that isn't about to change. It definitely has a leg up on the competition there, though Nintendo's virtual console idea sounds awfully delicious too.

Not only that, all games will be viewable in High definition. The PS2 certainly improved the graphics, load speed, and sound to old PSX games, but just imagine what the PS3 could do for the psx games now. Crisper, HD picture of FFIX, Chrono Cross and all the other great rpgs.


Enh. You can't view games in high definition if you don't have an HD TV, and the fact is that most people don't even have them. I'd bet that even by the end of the console's life, there won't be a majority of HD TV users in the market either. While it sounds nifty, and I'm sure it'll be great for some people, it doesn't really make my eyeballs pop out in excitement and wonder.

However the clincher, for me, has to be the REGION-FREE on games. Yes, no more mod chips for those imports, no more having to import JAP PS console to play those games that don't quite make it to the West. I know it applied to PS3 games, but I can't find anything confirming nor denying that it will cover previous PSX and PS2 games. The assumption its does, will have to do for now.

I know it may not be too much of an issue to the US, Canada, NTSC community whom would probably like to wait if a transaltion is done. But for me in the UK, even games like chrono cross, star ocean, legends of mana, xeno gears were! I mean still! are not released here. Sigh again!

I had to import them and use a emulator, which is great as I can us the superior pc graphics card to get better visual gaming with OPENGL, DirectX support, but its no playstation, if you know what I mean.


That IS a really positive feature, I have to admit. My only wonder is... will the region-free-ness be retroactively implemented? That is, will the PS3 have the ability to play both PAL and NTSC versions of PS1 and 2 games? Just NTSC? If so, then for PAL-gamers, the PS3 might just represent almost a Wii-Virtual Console-like opportunity to have the ability to play old games that might have been missed due to "regional unfortunatenesses." I'd be excited, too!

I would also like put out there before I end this email. Whats going on with Square Enix and FF7 interest. I mean they seem to be breaking their unofficial rule of revisting a previous game. Don't get me wrong, FF7 for the PC was my first RPG, its a great game, one of the all time best seller ever.


I got the PC version too, not having a PSX, and I've never been so disappointed with a port in my entire life. How could they even have IMAGINED the idea of MIDI-izing all of the wonderful music? What a horrible blunder.

Also, it was an unofficial rule, after all. Square Enix can do whatever the heck they feel like doing! I agree though; I could do without all of the extras and spinoffs.

Still Before Crisis, prequel to FF7, Crisis Core, sequel to Before Crisis, but prequel to FF7, and Dirge of Cerberus, sequel to FF7.... What are they trying to say actually, or are they going for a George lucas and "milk" their best ever selling FF for all its worth!

I appreciate they made FF7 AC, I loved the movie, then the PS3 tech demo of FF7 in E3 last year, show casing the PS3 graphics! Are they lining up for a full remake of FF7 for the PS3, which apparentley was expected to be annouced by Square in E3 2006.

Its just my view point that if anything was worth remaking proper, it would be FFVI. I'm not saying a FF7 remake bundled with the PS3 is not reason enought for me to plunder my savings account and buy the extremely over priced PS3, in the UK, on released day............becasue I would!

Kinds regards



Well, to be quite honest, I'm really surprised that Square Enix didn't run with the (now-receding?) Final Fantasy VII wave. I was really expecting to hear about a remake, and I was surprised that they put so much emphasis on FFXIII instead, especially when XII hasn't even been released here yet.

It's good to hear, though, from someone who might just find the system attractive enough to buy right off the bat. Sure, we can gripe about the PS3 all we want, but there's no denying that there are good reasons to get one as well. I personally find the Wii to be a much more attractive buy, and so I won't be getting my wallet out for Sony, at least for awhile. However, all of you should at least give it a little bit of thought, if you haven't... especially if you're a PAL-region gamer!

I try... I try...

Hi there Matt,

Ok I got a question for you regarding the next gen systems and such, system price is aok by me, but how much are the games themselves going to cost on the swanky tank $600 PS3? Since new disc format enevitably means higher costs on discs, so do you think we are looking at 60, 70 maybe even 100 dollar games(again..)


Now THAT, my friend Arros, is a great question. I really don't think that we're about to enter an era of vastly higher prices... the $100/game NES, SNES, and N64 cartridges are a thing of the past. Even though there will be a new medium, I can't see that the prices for new games would be any higher than they are right now; my guess is that they'll be comparable or very slightly higher. I'd expect to see titles go for between $50 and $75 Canadian bucks apiece (newly-released PS2 games usually sell for between $50 and $70 here), but I don't have any real concrete basis to go on. If you also remember, it wasn't long ago that I hypothesized publicly that the PS3 would be sold for $399. Heh heh heh... oops. ^^;;

That's my main copncern with the PS3 two paychecks for a system but 1/4 a paycheck for a game might be abit much

Arros Raikou
*hopes for a reply this time Mr. Demers*


Indeed. I guess we'll be hearing more about actual game prices over the next few months, as we get closer to the release dates of the first titles!

On the side, you remind me of my old piano teacher with your last little blip on the end of your message. I'm sorry if I don't always get around to everyone's messages all the time, but I promise I'm doing my best...with a chaotic inbox last week, it's definitely quite possible that some mail fell through the cracks! For that, I apologize.

Backlogs that don't explode your septic tank

Dear Matt,

Okay, that was wierd...I just sent this letter yesterday and it came back to me, with my address on it!!! Well, on to the letter.

Having read stuff about large backlogs and this aspect of gaming that I'd wager we all suffer from affecting future console purchase (as well as conversations in the real world coming back to this,) I thought I'd throw my own backlog o' d00m for observation.

*WARNING!* Do not look directly without protection!

FFVII, Soul Calibur 3, FFX, FFVI, Dark Cloud, Rayman 2, .hack//infection, Monster Rancher, Phantom Brave, Micro Maniacs, FFVIII, DBZ: Budokai 2, Simpsons Hit and Run, Digimon World, MegaMan Zero 4 and finally, the original Castlevania on GBA. As anyone can see, I'm good at starting stuff, but not quite as good at finishing it...^^'


Yikes! That's pretty significant, but with four popular Final Fantasy titles in the mix, you must have an actual problem. In reality, my backlog is also much bigger, though, I have to admit. There are a huge number of games that I still haven't gotten through, from Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, to Metroid Prime Hunters and Super Mario 64 DS, and yeah, I still haven't managed my way to the ending credits of Chrono Trigger. Remember when I was replaying it back around the end of last year? failure to complete that game remains by biggest RPG-related embarrassment!

As for the new consoles, I'd have to say that the Wii looks the best so far, but I'm probably going to end up getting a PS3 in the end. Why? Well, read on.

I play my original PS2 for about 2 years and BAMF! It starts scratching up my cds pretty bad. It even killed off my first SC3 disk. So, I buy a new SC3 and clean off my PS2 as good as I can, but to no avail, because it dies again. So, I chose to play my PS1 for a while, while figuring out the pros and cons of either buying a new PS2 or getting my current one repaired...this took a while.

Anyways, I end up buying a new PS2. After all, if I didn't like the PS3, it would be a worthwhile investment (especially since I don't buy into the next generation right away, due to lacking finances...) but, this very night, it started to scratch up my disks! And just as I was getting into the groove of .hack!! I even ran a few tests, to make sure it wasn't just the one disk, but the results were as bleak as a virus rushing through the internet and destroying it, thus obliterating society as we know it!



That's reason TO get a Playstation 3? It's as if you're like one of those poor skunks that you see on TV with its head stuck in an empty can of beans that keeps running into a wall over and over again helplessly. You can't help but laugh because it's funny, but you feel terrible about it at the same time, because it's really horrible and pathetic to watch. I understand that you mean "You'll need another system to play your old PS2 games" but, ugh. I'm sorry to hear about your luck.

You know, I might as well go back to using my PS1. It's pretty old and it's never given my a lick of strife. So, anything like this ever happened to you?


I didn't own the original Playstation, but yeah, my PS2 is nearing the end of its poor short life, I'm afraid, and it doesn't appear that there's much I can do about it. I was pissed off that it turned out to be a crappy DVD player in the first place, but I don't want to lose it altogether! It won't be very conducive to getting through that backlog we were just talking about, I'll tell you.

On another note, have you ever gotten a game that really stunk at first, but when you left it for a while and came back, you could tolerate-nay, like it?


Hmmm. Good question. The game that happened most with was Solar Jetman, an old NES game from Rare. It was one of the first three video games I ever owned, along with Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt and Ironsword. I played it at first, and I was really put off by what I perceived to be "impossible" difficulty and scariness at the tender age of eight or so, and I just didn't play it for a really long time. When I came back to it a few years later and actually got through a big portion of the game, I came to love it. Solar Jetman is now one of my favourite old-school video games of all time, and I only wish that they had made another.

Well, them's my two cents about things and stuff. Catch you on the flip side?


Peter "What? You fekkin' piece of junk! *window shatters*" Brennan.


Y. Whatever the "flip side" might refer to, I'll be there... waiting...

*throws white feathers in the air and twirls around a field of yellow flowers*

Convoluted storylines...and sketchy explanations for them

Hi Matt,

I just played through Final Fantasy X-2 for the first time, and I think I missed something. Did they ever explain why the aeons came back or I am just oblivious? Oh, and any sight or sound of Golden Sun 3 at E3?



I don't know. Perhaps because FFX-2's developers thought one day while sitting around a conference table: "HEYYYY, wouldn't it be COOL if we brought them back, but all evil-like with weirded-out totally awesome colours? That'd be AWESOME." My first guess is that you end up in the farplane, so when the holes appear everywhere leading there, of course the souls of your former friends would want to come back and try to kill you(na)... but it's been what, well over two years since I've played the game myself. Thus, I don't remember the storyline details terribly well, and I've probably messed things up terribly already, and people will write in to tell me how terrible of a host I am, and then the world will just cease to exist. It might be recommendable to unlock some of the bonus material; I've heard that that helps to explain a lot of things about both the storylines of X and X-2.

As for Golden Sun 3, no. No word at all, which is a shame. The storyline of The Lost Age set up for a sequel so perfectly, I thought. The ending almost screamed "there's gonna be another!" when certain personalities weren't explicitly killed and the party blabbed on about "how much the land had changed," etc, which would lend itself to having a brand new overworld map for a sequel. The fact that there were spells and items in the second game that restored incredible amounts of HP (1000? Or was it 2000?) also raised my eyebrow a bit, since they seemed to tease that one day, you might need that much life, though it wouldn't be in that game...

I don't know! I would be really surprised and a little disappointed if we didn't ever see another Golden Sun game again. While the games weren't my favourite of all time, they weren't my least favourite either, and man, they had some seriously amazing music/graphics/dungeon design.

Thanks for writing in!


I got up really early this morning compared to my usual 11:30-12 routine, because I had to meet up with my professor at 9:15 or so. The result is that I feel like it's much later than it actually is, and I'm really really hungry as a result. I'm used to eating my dinner only a few hours after breakfast (I'm generally a two-meals per day kind of guy), and I can't do that, because it's only 11:45 right now. I suppose I could smear some peanut butter on a hot dog bun and call it lunch, but I'm not so sure. Argh!


***Answers to May 24th's Questions***

#202. a) Melissa - 300 points (the others were all characters from Tiny Toons; I was surprised at the number of people that immediately noticed this)

#203. e) Bay City Plaza, Geelong - 270 points/540 for Bainick (thanks for the submission!)

***Today's New Questions***

#204: In the first Breath of Fire game that was not published by Squaresoft, how many step-sounds are audible when walking up or down any flight of stairs? (320 points)

a) 3
b) 4
c) 5
d) 6
e) There is no sound effect for walking up or down stairs.

Reader-Submitted #205: After wandering through the desert, you fall in a hole. What enemy should you watch for as you search for the way out of the cave? (290 points)

a) Trooper
b) May Fly
c) Dive Bomber
d) Sand Tripper
e) Armor Wasp

A few new items have been added to the list, and Status Ailments have been introduced at last! Fire spells now have a chance of Burning their targets, and if you're unfortunate enough to be afflicted by an Annoying Curse, you'd better get ready to do some serious Q&A-writing! The battle to get to the real items is going to be anything but easy. Also, I've included a new rulebook-of-sorts down below. Check it out, if you're new to the competition, and get involved! There's no time like the present, and with some pretty fun prizes involved, why wouldn't you want to?

SOCK's Item List

*You may obtain these items upon reaching the listed point benchmarks!*

2,000 points: Your choice of Point Doubler (2 left) or Wait Mode (1 left)
3,500 points: Your choice of Blind Spell (1 left) or Auxiliary Point Generator (1 left)
5,000 points: Your choice of Annoying Curse (2 left) or Fire 3 Spell (2 left)
7,000 points: Your choice of Mithril Sword (3 left) or Damage Deflector (3 left)
10,000 points: Your choice of Esuna Spell (1 left) or Hyper Beam (2 left)
14,000 points: Your choice of Auxiliary Point Generator (1 left) or Blind Spell (1 left)

Click Here For Item Descriptions and Contest Rules!

SOCK's Prize Shop

*You may SPEND points here in order to obtain any of the following prizes- new ones may appear at any time*

1,000 points: Matt's Mom's Cookie Compilation- 6 fantastic recipes right out of Matt's mom's amazing kitchen! Yours, upon request. (5 left)

2,000 points: Intro Paragraph Cameo- If you feel like having a piece of Q&A all to yourself for a day, but you're not up for answering a bunch of questions, this option might be just for you! Say the word, and the Intro Paragraph is yours to do whatever you want with for a day. (5 left)

10,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #3.5- Ah, why not? Cohost days are fun, so here are a couple of extra chances for you to snag, if you're so inclined. (2 left)

15,000 points: Nintendo Wii Canvas Carrying Bag- It's simple and white, with blue print, and two drawstrings; I picked this up while waiting in the nigh-infinitely long line to play Nintendo's new console at E3 2006. If you'd like it, I'll mail it to you free of charge! (1 left)

15,000 points: Pokémon 10th Anniversary game case- Not as special as it sounds, but useful for carrying up to 4 DS games or 2 DS games and 2 Game Boy Advance games. Translucent plastic with a silver Pikachu and print on the front. (1 left)

20,000 points: Cohost Opportunity #4- It might sound like a lot, but it'll be here before you know it. Your next chance to reign over Q&A with yours truly. (5 left)

22,000 points: Slime Keychain Dangler- Fresh from the Square Enix booth at E3 2006, this cute little guy can be yours. (1 left)

22,000 points: Slime Snail Keychain Dangler- Anyone remember Slime Snails from Dragon Warrior III? I managed to snag one of these, too. Strut with Dragon Quest pride!! (1 left)

25,000 points: Full Host Opportunity #1- This is it. Write your own Q&A section, without having me interrupt, break in, or steal your sunshine. Be RPGamer's new idol for a day! (1 left)

30,000 points: Nintendo DS Lite Carrying Case- This won't quite fit old-model DS handhelds, but it's lightweight and flashy. White and black with an extra zippered pocket for carrying games, and a hook to attach to clothes, backpacks, or whatnot. I received this at Nintendo's Pre-E3 Media Briefing. (1 left)

30,000 points: Your choice of Megaman X4, X5, or X6 for the PSX. If you're into the Megaman series as much as I am, and you don't own any of these, I don't need them any more, now that I have purchased the collection. You can take your pick, and I'll send it to you in the mail with a handwritten note of congratulations from myself. They aren't RPGs, for sure, but I'm working on it for the future. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (3 left)

50,000 points: Suikoden for the PSX. Play the game that started off the entire series! Josh was generous enough to donate this exciting prize, so it would be cool to send this to a good and loving home. (Sorry, NTSC-format only) (1 left) *********************************************************

One more column will round out this week in Q&A- er, until Josh comes in for the weekend and does a fine job, of course. Please welcome Macstorm as he takes the much-coveted seat as co-host number sixteen, and send lots of mail so that we have letters to sift through! And Kanato, try not to throw anything, as much as you might want to!
***Matt is hungry for dinner!

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